What’s Good About Young Souls
If you’ve been reading this series for as long as I’ve been doing this (which if you have, thank you so much, I really appreciate it), then you know that I have particular tastes when it comes to games that I play if my writing about a bunch of Roguelikes and yelling about Destiny 2 since I started posting weekly is anything to go by. I bring this up because I find that the game that I’m talking bout this week for what is the unofficial third anniversary of me getting into writing consistently (yay milestones) is Young Souls, a beat ’em up that is specifically designed to evoke the best of both that genre, RPGs and fighting games from a mechanics standpoint while also telling an interesting story about family.
The game starts at the epilogue interestingly enough where we see the protagonists, twins Jean and Tristan fighting through the burning ruins of their hometown against a group of marauding goblins. From there the plot shifts back a few weeks and goes through ten chapters of narrative and dungeon crawling that has the twins going around their hometown; the duo fighting goblins in the underground and trying to find their missing surrogate who’s known only as The Professor, who was kidnapped by the goblins under their leader Dwarvengobbon. The twins are a great pair, frequently bouncing off of each other with well-written quips and snarking the antagonists whenever they get the chance, and their journey to reduce their adoptive caregiver is a very strong hook for some of the more emotional moments that happen later. But they aren’t the only good characters, their mission control Baldwin is a good boy and mentor who gives you some much-needed advice and Dwarvengobbon is a fantastic Straight Man for his ridiculous inner circle of quirky minions, it’s great stuff.
The Game’s structure is split right down the middle between the stat building/hub traversal/character advancement of an RPG and the active combat of a beat ’em up. At the first time, the game is loaded up the game opts to give you various difficulty options depending on your skill level. I chose the recommended skill level, Challenging because it directly says that it’s the skill to go on if you have a lot of experience with both beat ’em ups and fighting games. I happen to have a lot of experience in both of those genres of video game, so I picked that and within the first five minutes of the first combat encounter of Young Souls, it really shows. The controls are fast and responsive, have a lot of opportunities to cancel animations into one another, a parry mechanic, it’s all there and it tickles my brain in just the right ways. These are all offset by the Game having a ridiculous difficulty curve if you try to play it like a beat ’em up. If you don’t level your stats at the gym, look for better weapons and keep stocked with proper healing items, you will get your shit rocked and rocked hard. This becomes extra apparent in both the boss fights you engage in and in the general back half of the game where the dungeons open up for more non-linear exploration
Young Souls also moves pretty quickly. It’s paced to allow you to explore your hometown and other areas as you see fit, but if you stick to the main path, you can get through it in under ten or so hours. I’m about 5 chapters in and I can see where the game can really open up for the back half with the exploration and alternate paths, it’s great stuff.
Young Souls is a game that wears its heart on its sleeves and that’s one of the nicest things I can say about a video game. Between its well-told story of family and fine-tuned gameplay, it’s got more than enough in there to keep me going until the end, and sometimes, that’s all you really need a game to do.